Conservative Diary

Picks of the Year

1 Jan 2013 19:54:46

In summary, here are the ten Picks Of 2012 as chosen by readers...

By Tim Montgomerie
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Rounding off our Picks of the Year - as voted for by readers the last two winners are...

The u-turn of the year was the pasty tax - voted for by 46.7% of ConHome respondents. The coming U-turn on Heathrow's third runway was second with 33.5% of votes.

Gaffe of the year was Aidan Burley Tweeting about "multicultural crap" during the Olympics Opening Ceremony. It won 30.4% of the vote. Chloe Smith's infamous Newsnight appearance received 29.8% and Nadine Dorries going on I Am A Celebrity won 24.0%.

The previous eight winners were...

1 Jan 2013 12:36:03

The Scrap of the Year was between the parliamentary party and the Tory leadership — on multiple fronts

By Peter Hoskin
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Kapow! It’s time for the Scrap of the Year award, as voted for by ConHome readers in our end-of-year survey. In the end, it wasn’t so much a points decision as a total knockout. One scrap bludgeoned its way to the top of the pile, as the voting totals show:

  • The scrap between the parliamentary party and the Tory leadership, on multiple fronts: 51.8%
  • Between Nadine Dorries and nearly everyone else: 19.2%
  • Between John Hayes and Ed Davey over wind farms: 18.3%
  • Between Cameron and Boris for the leadership of Tory hearts: 10.7%

It’s the “multiple fronts” part that’s key. The entire year has been punctuated with fights, both large and small, between segments of the parliamentary party and their leadership. There have been the headline rebellions over Lords reform and the EU budget; there has been disgruntlement about gay marriage and the Budget U-turns; and there has been simmering resentment over airports and referenda. And what’s made it worse for David Cameron is that this goes beyond any band of usual suspects. The discontents have included — variably — up-and-comers from the 2010 intake, as well as grizzled backbenchers who were never overjoyed about the whole Cameroonian thing.

Continue reading "The Scrap of the Year was between the parliamentary party and the Tory leadership — on multiple fronts" »

1 Jan 2013 09:55:30

Michael Gove is Conservative Minister of 2012

By Tim Montgomerie
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For the second year the Education Secretary Michael Gove wins the highest honour in ConHome's end-of-year awards as voted for by Tory members;

  • 36.1% voted for the Education Secretary - "for his continuing education reforms";
  • 29.1% voted for IDS - "for his continuing welfare reforms";
  • 8.9% for Theresa May - "for cutting immigration, reforming the police and steadiness in a tough job";
  • 8.8% for Owen Paterson (already crowned the One To Watch by members) - "for being a fearless, full-spectrum Conservative";
  • 8.3% for Eric Pickles - "for delivering budget control and reform across local government";
  • 6.5% for John Hayes - "for standing up to the Liberal Democrats on wind farms";
  • 2.2% for Francis Maude - "for cutting the costs and size of Whitehall".

The nominees were chosen just before Christmas. The Chancellor was not nominated.

Continue reading "Michael Gove is Conservative Minister of 2012" »

31 Dec 2012 16:53:52

The rise of UKIP was the event of the year

By Tim Montgomerie
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Screen Shot 2012-12-27 at 10.59.16

Farage Nigel UKIP

The event of the year - according to more than 2,500 ConHome readers - was the rise of UKIP. Readers had a choice of four events in our Picks of 2012 survey and these were the results:

  • The rise of UKIP: 51.5%;
  • The "omnishambles" Budget: 21.8%;
  • The ending of the reform of the Lords and boundaries: 14.0%;
  • David Cameron's Party Conference speech and its vision of conservatism: 12.7%.

One of Paul's four big reasons for thinking that David Cameron cannot win a majority at the next election is the first post-war split on the Right of British politics and UKIP's rise is the key reason for that split. Lord Ashcroft's recent polling on the UKIP threat underlined the reality that Nigel Farage's party won't easily be countered - even if Cameron makes a bankable commitment to hold an In/Out referendum. UKIP is now a broadly-based protest party - gaining recruits from people who are angry about the direction of the country, especially on immigration, political sleaze and now, it seems, gay marriage. The hope must be that if the next election looks close then the heavy Tory bias of UKIP's voters (confirmed in Lord A's mega poll) will encourage many of them to support the Conservatives in order to stop Ed Miliband becoming PM. Cameron must use the next two years to ensure that they feel it's worth them doing so.

Continue reading "The rise of UKIP was the event of the year" »

31 Dec 2012 15:28:07

The benefits cap is your Policy of 2012

By Peter Hoskin
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Time for the the fifth result from our end-of year readers’ survey: those for Policy of the Year. The overall winner, by some distance, was the benefits cap, which secured 57.6 per cent of the vote. The list of runners-up reads as follows:

  • The higher and higher basic income tax allowance: 24.1 per cent.
  • The replacement of GCSEs: 13.1 per cent.
  • The introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners: 5.3 per cent.

At which point, some of you might be thinking: which benefit cap are we talking about? There have, after all, been two in town this year. There’s the one that the Chancellor announced in 2010, but that has rumbled along in Parliament ever since, and will be introduced in 2013, to cap the amount that any one household can receive in benefits at £26,000 a year. And there’s the one that he announced in the last Autumn Statement, to cap the uprating of several key benefits at 1 per cent a year.

Continue reading "The benefits cap is your Policy of 2012" »

30 Dec 2012 17:35:17

Owen Paterson is ConHome readers' One To Watch in 2013

By Tim Montgomerie
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In the fourth set of results from our end-of-year readers' survey Owen Paterson has been voted as the One To Watch in 2013. The man who succeeded Caroline Spelman as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was an overwhelming winner - garnering 53.3% of the more than 2,500 votes. The other three individuals nominated before Christmas received the following percentage of votes...

  • Treasury minister and rising star Sajid Javid: 18.3%
  • Education minister and free market thinker Liz Truss: 16.5%
  • Backbencher Andrea Leadsom and her campaigning on Europe and children's welfare: 11.9%

Continue reading "Owen Paterson is ConHome readers' One To Watch in 2013" »

29 Dec 2012 06:44:27

The Conservative achievement of 2012 was the re-election of Boris Johnson

By Tim Montgomerie
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Over the last couple of days we published the first two of ten picks of 2012 - as chosen by ConHome readers; Jesse Norman won the backbencher of the year award and, less happily, Nick Clegg won Yellow B**tard of the Year.

In the contest for Conservative achievement of 2012 there were four categories and the winner was Boris Johnson's re-election with 41.4% of the vote. The other nominations were...

  • Continuing reforms of schools, welfare and local government, scoring 29.3%;
  • A successful London 2012, scoring 16.6%; and
  • A reduction in health waiting times, crime, unemployment, immigration and borrowing, winning 12.6% of votes.


At the time I explained Boris Johnson's success in terms of three key factors...

"(1) Boris has never neglected Conservative values: "Some Right-wing Tories like to think that Boris has prospered because of his opposition to the euro, his hawkish approach to crime and his support for lower taxes.  These things have indeed been ingredients of his successful political recipe. He has never lost the support of core Tories because he has never forgotten that vital American maxim that you ‘dance with the one that brung you’.""

"Never" might have been over-stating it but "rarely" is close to the truth.

Continue reading "The Conservative achievement of 2012 was the re-election of Boris Johnson" »

28 Dec 2012 16:30:19

Nick Clegg is the 'Yellow B**tard of 2012'

By Tim Montgomerie
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Yesterday we published the first of ten picks of 2012 - as chosen by ConHome readers. Jesse Norman won the backbencher of the year award.

Our second award goes to the Yellow B**tard of the year. The name for this award is taken from a meeting of the 1922 Committee when one or two Tory MPs decided to vent against Lib Dem obstructionism. There was a time when Nick Clegg was at the bottom of the Yellow B**tard League but, to the certain disappointment of Lord Oakeshott, no longer. Asked to vote for Yellow B**tard of 2012 and the Lib Dem leader was the clear winner...


Continue reading "Nick Clegg is the 'Yellow B**tard of 2012'" »

27 Dec 2012 11:55:32

Backbencher of the Year: 1st place, Jesse Norman; 2nd place, Robert Halfon; 3rd place, Mark Reckless

By Tim Montgomerie
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Over the next few days we will be announcing how 2,568 of Tory members have voted in ten end-of-year awards. We begin with the result of the Parliamentarian of the Year award. In a very tight contest Jesse Norman won 34.6% of votes - narrowly beating Robert Halfon (32.1%) into second place and Mark Reckless (31.2%) into third place.


Jesse Norman masterminded the successful Tory rebellion on Lords reform. This is what Paul Goodman wrote about Jesse at the time:

"The author of an elegant book about the Big Society and a ferocious campaigner against PFI, the MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire was a likely candidate for promotion.  He has turned his back on it to fight for a cause in which he believes. "

He may not win early promotion under David Cameron but he has marked himself out as a man of principle and of considerable organising skills. More Tory backbenchers voted against the government's plans or abstained than voted in favour of them. I have nominated him as a future Home Secretary in my 2020 Cabinet.

Shortly after it became clear that Lords reform was not going to happen Nick Clegg broke his promise and linked boundary and Lords reform, ensuring that the Tories paid a heavy price for their rebellion.

Continue reading "Backbencher of the Year: 1st place, Jesse Norman; 2nd place, Robert Halfon; 3rd place, Mark Reckless" »

20 Dec 2012 18:01:41

Nominations for Conservative achievement of the year

Later this week we will conduct our end-of-year ConHome readers' poll and we will ask readers to vote for ten picks of 2012. What should be the nominees for the Conservative achievement of the year? Boris Johnson's re-election? The big drop in net immigration? The rejection of statutory regulation of the press? Cameron getting a one question-only Scottish referendum? Please nominate your suggestions below - always giving a reason why.